Combining a variety of media and erring on the side of conceptual design, Stefan's work is both straightforward and elusive, providing a similar feeling as one might have when trying to interpret data of unknown origins. Stefan's use of science in his art particularly caught our attention as being both masterfully created and thoughtfully presented. Influenced by his training in biology, Stefan explores the linkage between the self, natural phenomena, and cultural definitions of nature.

      --Arlissa Vaughn, Visual Overture Magazine, Winter 2011

[Petranek's] work is strongly informed by biology, natural history, and the epistemology of scientific investigation. Grounding his work is the premise of a dialogic or give-and-take relationship between the viewer and the world of natural phenomena (the viewed). For Petranek these seemingly banal and frequently overlooked natural processes and ordering systems are integral to our very existence. In other words, Petranek observes his own observations, and pauses to reflect on their significance.

      --Excerpt from Clarence Burton Sheffield, catalogue essay from Naturally Exhibition, 2007

Stefan Petranek's photography and video work…investigates humanity's interaction with the natural world by focusing attention on the subtle artifacts or remnants of that interaction in sublime imagery that borders on abstraction. The balance in the work is quite nearly perfect. In the "Fossil Series," 2005-10, Petranek presents a series of snowscapes initially deceptive in scale. Images that first appear to be large caverns, caves, or fissures in a snowy arctic landscape slowly reveal themselves to be backlit footprints in the snow. The simple impressions allude to humanity's impact' on nature, allowing each viewer to measure it on their own. If it were more obvious in its formation or concept, the work would be drained of its power. However, Petranek gives us just enough, visually, to decipher both his process and his intent, and the revelation is striking. In Beacon, 2007, a five-minute single-channel video, abstraction and the sublime are carried even further, with equally successful results. Over an obvious and consistent waterfront soundtrack, a dancing pattern of light emerges from blackness and reveals itself to be the reflection on the water of some far-off intermittent source, perhaps a lighthouse or buoy. This blinking reflection moves back and forth across the frame before receding back into latency. Over the course of the remaining few minutes of the video, the camera slowly zooms in on the blurry source of the light, until the entire frame alternates between black and white, all against the soundtrack of waves and wind. Again, balance is key; the simplicity of the three visual and aural elements carried too far would push the work quickly into banality Instead, this fascinating video presents very powerfully-ironically by focusing on the unknown but obviously man-made light source, the only human element in the work aside from its actual creation-nature's permanence against humanity's ultimately ephemeral existence.

[Petranek] chooses to gaze upon fairly common subject matter, whether nature, science, or community, not head-on but from the side. It is not that the perspective is skewed, but by presenting a decidedly off-center approach, the artist offers wonderfully unique entrees, frames of reference, and points of departure.

      --Excerpt from Sean Dohaher, Beyond/In Western New York 2010: Alternating Currents. Eds. Pam Hatley and Pamela Martin, p.78-80, 2010